Five Years with the Sugar Blood

This week, I celebrate my 5-year anniversary with diabetes. July 23, 2008. That’s 1,826 days–and considering I check my blood sugar at least 4 times a day, if I use 4 as the minimum amount, I’ve at least poked my finger 7,304 times now. That’s a lot of stinkin’ times.

I don’t really know how to celebrate a milestone like this (certainly not with cake…haha!), but I’ve never written out my story and now seemed like a good time.

My Diabetes Diagnosis:
I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 20 after losing about 20 pounds in just a couple of months. For whatever reason, my pancreas decided to stop producing insulin. I first noticed that something was different when I went to try on Easter dresses and had dropped a couple of dress sizes, especially considering nothing in my diet or exercise routine (ha!) had changed…and it wasn’t even marching season.

So I did what any girl who was losing weight without trying would do: I ate everything in sight. Large sweet tea? Yes, please. Dessert? Every time. Ice cream before bed? Four scoops, please. Why yes, I’d love a large glass of grape juice and another grande java chip frappuccino.

My favorite was our trip to Charleston with my grandparents that year. I was soooo soooo thirsty all the time. I would drink and drink and drink (sugary drinks of course…because I’m losing weight, remember?). And then I would pee and pee and pee. I just know my family loved traveling with me. Stop for a drink. Drive a little. Stop to pee. Thirsty again. Drink drink drink. Drive a little more. Stop again. It was fabulous. And then there was the night before I went to the doctor that I was supposed to fast after midnight and I stayed up eating CheezIts until 11:59.

About to give my first shot...

About to give my first shot…

Another funny memory from the whole diagnosis process was coming home from my initial doctor’s visit and Aunt Janna asking, “What’d he say?” I replied, “Oh, it’s a girl.” Her eyes got soooo big. hahahaha! I had simply meant that my doctor was female.

That precious female doctor called me the next day with my diagnosis. She said she was happy she was telling me that I had diabetes instead of cancer. Literally five minutes before she called, I had told Mom and Aunt Janna that I could live with a thyroid problem or I could live with this-and-that, but I could never imagine living with diabetes. Ha. When the doc told me it was Type I, I had to make sure she had her diagnosis right…“Isn’t that the little kid kind?

That day was so interesting. For the most part, I was fine. I was having some little girls over to paint picture frames for a surprise for their parents and I was making them lunch. So right after I got the call, I drove to Fresh Market to get some hot dogs and other items I needed for our lunch. The whole way there, I just randomly cried, but then I’d be fine. It was so strange. That night, I had to teach my kids class at church and the lesson was on “We Can Worship God No Matter What.” (Talk about incredible timing!) I was fine unless someone started hugging me or said something incredibly kind to me. During prayer requests, I distinctly remember my dad saying, “Just nobody hug her…or else she’ll cry.” Hahaha!

Life with the ‘Betes
Before all this came about, I had agreed to be on staff for band camp at my old high school, which started the Monday after my diagnosis. I’m so glad I kept this commitment because I think it was the first big step to proving I could still do anything in spite of this disease. This meant 12-hour days in the heat, but they were some of the best days of my life and led to years’-worth of good memories in this position. Sandwiched in the weekend between these two weeks of band camp were the weddings of two good friends…my first of many weddings without cake. Then a couple of weeks later, I started my own “grueling” band camp at UK.

Skin and bones at band camp, but so happy to be living life...

Skin and bones at band camp, but so happy to be living life…

In just a matter of weeks, I was doing stuff I never dreamed I’d be doing. I was shooting myself in the stomach in restaurants, public restrooms, and anywhere I could be somewhat discreet. (Let me just take this moment to say that poking a needle into your own skin is something you never get used to no matter how much you try to psyche yourself up for it.) I had learned how to stuff needles, insulin, glucose tablets, a meter, and lancing device all up in a shako. I had learned how to count carbs and was keeping a detailed log of what I ate, when, what my sugar was, and what kinds of activities I was doing. It was intense.

One of my craziest memories from the first few months was when the UK Marching Band played for the Ryder Cup in Louisville in September of 2008. We had a really long rehearsal in Louisville one evening and I was still getting used to managing everything. We’d already had a really messed up eating schedule, so that had already thrown me off a little bit. But the best part was this: I used to give my long-acting insulin shot (Lantus) at 11:00 every night. Well, at 11:00 that night, we were on the bus on the way home. So what did I do? Stuck the needle in my belly flab and gave my shot…in the dark…on an incredibly bumpy bus with little consolation from the person next to me. haha! Good times. You do whatcha gotta do.

Since then, I haven’t really had to give shots in too many crazy places. I started using an OmniPod insulin pump in April of 2009 and it revolutionized my life. I wasn’t wired to anything and I didn’t have to pull up my shirt every time I needed to give a shot. The only thing that became different was I beeped every time I needed to give some insulin. Sometimes my friends think the beep is a fire alarm. “Excuse my pancreas” became a much-loved phrase of mine. (BTW, whenever I wear it on my arm, I ALWAYS run into doorframes. It’s special, really.) My PDM has also been mistaken for my phone. One little girl asked, “Why do you have to put blood in your phone to make it work?!”

Filling up the OmniPod

Filling up the OmniPod

It’s still fun trying to manage roller-coaster blood sugars while you try to go about your everyday life. There was another time I was on a bus ride home from a really long band competition day and my sugar dropped to the low 60’s. I’m usually pretty good about keeping juice and food on hand, but for some reason, I didn’t have a Mott’s for Tots with me that night. I had stuffed an apple in my bag from the hospitality room earlier in the day–the pure providence of God. The staff around me was engrossed in planning the next year’s show as I tried to tell them my sugar was low. The guy next to me kept saying, “What’s that smell?” every time I would pull out something new to eat. I smell peanut butter. Is that an apple? I resorted to texting a student in the back of the bus so someoneANYONE, would know why I died if the apple and nabs didn’t suffice. (I lived…in case you were wondering.) We joked that if the apple didn’t work, the staff would have to change their show plans for the next year to a Sarah Caroline Memorial Show and play Sweet Caroline.

There is a lot more I could say and a slew of more hilarious stories I could share, but in a nutshell, this is what I’ve learned from diabetes…

Through it all, I’ve learned that God’s grace is more than sufficient and He has used this disease to teach me about my own fleshly weaknesses, draw me closer to Himself, and to help others who are also dealing with chronic diseases. Diabetes changes your outlook on life…I never thought I’d be thankful for a papercut, but now I view it as an opportune time to check my blood sugar without having to intentionally make myself bleed. 🙂

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
{2 Corinthians 12:9}

For now, I leave you with…

My Top 5 Favorite Things People Say When They Find Out I Have Diabetes: 

  • “I hate needles.” Well friend, I don’t particularly like them, but God has graciously seen fit to sustain my earthly life by using them.
  • “My grandma has diabetes.” *facepalm* Your grandma’s body most likely still makes insulin, but it has just decided not to respond to it anymore. That’s called Type 2 diabetes. I have the little kid kind. My body doesn’t make insulin anymore, but it still responds to it. That’s called Type 1. My diabetes is probably not your grandma’s diabetes, but thanks for the sympathy?
  • “I bought you this cookbook.” This will either turn out to be really really good…or really really bad.
  • “Did you know you don’t have to prick your fingers anymore?” I really do love it when people say this. I say it myself and laugh out loud at the commercial. But I do still prick my fingers because the thought of sticking my arm kind of weirds me out.
  • “My cat has diabetes. I have to give her shots, too.” Awww, really? -.-

If you’ve hung in here this long, bless you. Be sure to stay tuned for a list of my Five-Star Diabetes-related things, such as my favorite things to order at Starbucks and the best kind of alcohol swabs. I know I just pricked your interest.

The “sugar blood” isn’t usually something I bring up as a conversation topic, but I’m most certainly open to talking about it with anyone who is curious. Just ask!



one thousand gifts {2949-3038}

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
{2 Corinthians 12:9}

2 Corinthians 12:9

It’s not Monday and there’s not a multitude, but I do have a moment…a moment that’s free. (And I thought I was crazy busy last month. HA! God showed me.) So I’m using this short moment to remember. To remember how good He’s been even in the busy of ordinary life. I’ve had so many “Just keep swimming…Just keep swimming… moments this past month that it’s been borderline ridiculous, but the Lord has constantly reminded me of my need for His grace and strength and He’s been faithful to fill me with both.

He’s also been so good to let me continue to do things I love in addition to working multiple jobs that I enjoy. This past month, I’ve been able to teach music, play music, eat delicious food, spend quality time with many friends, celebrate my church, interact with new people, and so much more.

In all reality, I’m a girl who deserves to be eternally separated from God. But God, in His rich mercy, while I was wallowing in my self-centered sinfulness sent His Son to live a perfect life that I could never live and to die the death I deserved. If that isn’t grace, I don’t know what is! With Christ covering me, everything is a blessing. 

2949. biking in the basement with bonhoeffer
2950. covenant Maker becoming covenant-Keeper & dying for covenant breakers
2951. pep band–past and present coincide

Pep Band with Madison piccolo2952. thank yous
2953. new tasks
2954. not of this world
2955. smashfries with erin
2956. staying late
2957. chats with cute neighbors and a delicious dinner
2958. not having a spare second to be bored
2959. singing along with T4GII
2960. chats with a smily, happy aly
2961. “did you get the dress?!” hahahahaha!

I was responsible for getting a high schooler's dress to a college girl. From Lindsey to Aly's locker to the ensemble room to the band office to my car to my closet, to my car, to Wilmore. It went through a lot to be safely transferred to Kerry's hands. You have no idea how many people asked me with very wide, concerned eyes, "Did you get the dress?!"

I was responsible for getting a high schooler’s dress to a college girl. From Lindsey to Aly’s locker to the ensemble room to the band office to my car to my closet, to my car, to Wilmore. It went through a lot to be safely transferred to Kerry’s hands. You have no idea how many people asked me with very wide, concerned eyes, “Did you get the dress?!”

2962. faithful to promises: He gives His beloved sleep (even when they’re stupid).
2963. breakfast and sweet chats with helen
2964. the kentucky symphony with gilbert rollins
2965. kerry playing clarinet in a college concert & seeing miss bailey
2966. having kerry over for a comfort food meal in wainrights’ kitchen
2967. being appreciated with breakfast at the bob brown house
2968. miss erica rose’s squishy cheeks

Erica Rose2969. way beyond. way past. {ephesians 3:18-20}
2970. seeing dr. patel for the first time in 3 years and getting my sugars straightened out
2971. practicing the tinman run at the doctor’s office on a pencil via my phone
2972. playing all night after a full day of work
{you can read a full recap of things i learned from playing in the wizard of oz here}
2973. going silent to end it
2974. snow in my hair
2975. practicing piccolo in the pizza plaza parking lot. high A-flats. yay!
2976. dinner with the golden girls at saul good
2977. mrs. b’s faces. my favorite!
2978. ||: ding dong the witch is dead :|| (in case you missed it the first 423 times)
2979. writing hard words
2980. chatting with crows and hugging jitterbugs

Jitterbug Crow
2981. “why is she said?” -little kid in the audience asking about dorothy
2982. hugs from ellen!
2983. God’s rich mercy & compassion
2984. lunch with friends & familiy
2985. rolling xylophones and carrying cabasas and timpani stools in heels and a dress. favorite!
2986. the gruesome finale of judges {Jesus, be the King on the throne of my life!}
2987. “My grace is sufficient for you.”
2988. sadie loving me in my mess
2989. 5 months worth of work in a couple of days. o.O
2990. catching up with charla at dinner
2991. watching friends perform at the station show with mom & seeing other friends unexpectedly
2992. kind goodbyes–so courteous
2993. God answering prayers for the words i needed to hear to be placed in bro. vance’s mouth
2994. the urgent reminder to be in the Word and to pray
2995. lunch at shaker village!

Shaker Village2996. gathering with a family who waits peacefully for their mother’s coronation moment–so precious.
2997. such a sweet spirit
2998. breakfast with iron-sharpening sweet ashley~laughing about birds in plane engines, hilarious parents, and life in general
2999. awnings–especially on a rainy day
3000. washed clean–showered with His love and numberless blessings. Hosanna has saved me–a scumbag who deserves death. He gave me life–abundant & eternal life–instead.

Gift #30003001. buying too many passion cd’s on my lunch break
3002. saul good being out of plastic spoons for my to-go french onion soup & trusting me with a metal spoon. of course i’ll be back.
3003. getting glory bumps during EVERY song on the passion cd at some point and nearly crying during “we glorify Your Name”
3004. mom making waffles after dinner–just because
3005. catching up with a far-away friend who is always so swift to give a compliment. kind words soak to the depths of my soul and can keep me rejuvenated for days. may my words ALWAYS do the same for others.
3006. words of appreciation not often expressed
3007. hysterical laughs with erin midday over a “hu hu ha” call from george
3008. smiles from a squishy baby!
3009. doing a myriad of tasks–may of which convenienced others and eased their burdens. my favorite.
3010. ♪ the Lord our God is ever faithful, never changing through the ages! ♪
3011. words of affirmation
3012. streamers and choreography. oh my.
3013. isaiah 26:3-4 being repeated in my life. emphasis much?!
3014. going with my gut
3015. ♪ wake up! open your eyes–no longer dead, we are alive! ♪
3016. hearing a voice that sounded trinidadian–almost made me cry.
3017. reuniting with kerry! laughs on top of laughs. 😀
3018. returning the spoon to saul good (see #3002)
3019. $5 ballet flats!
3020. windy country road adventures for a windy corner breakfast with kristen

Windy Corner Breakfast3021. God’s grace triumphing in the life of trick–such a beautiful testimony at her funeral
3023. jamie grace being so presh in person. (“i’ll thank my husband for paying the bills and buying me chickfila!”)
3024. worshipping with TobyMac & his little indoor drumline. band geek love. ❤

TobyMac Drumline
3025. celebrating 16 years of God’s faithfulness

16 Years @ NLBC3026. being a treasured jewel {malachi 3:17}
3027. church pot-blessings complete with anita’s chocolate pie
3028. promises to keep His promises
3029. eating, fellowshipping, and memphis reminiscing with the drurys
3030. hearing how a friend is being obedient and walking in the truth
3031. an ordained open night to catch up on a little work
3032. talking to myself
3033. being loved because i am covered
3034. prayers being answered–urging & encouraging me to pray more
3035. feeling put together–on a wednesday, nonetheless
3036. finally feeling like i’ve hit a point of true friendship
3037. a premature “amen” from lucy. so cute!
3038. peace through His blood & ordained good works

“To see the glory, name the graces.”

Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites every Monday. 

In the Third Heaven: The God Who Can’t Be Talked About {TGCW12-Jenny Salt}

“In the Third Heaven: The God Who Can’t Be Talked About” | 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference 2012
Session #5 | Jenny Salt

link to official website

Where do we get our bearings for life? 

The world says to boast about the things that are impressive about you. But, if the Gospel is our GPS, our attitude about boasting will be turned upside-down.

1) Paul shows what Gospel-boasting is. (vs. 1-6)
-Right at the point he’s being criticized, he brings up a low-point in his life–a time that could’ve been seen as pathetic. (ch. 11:30-33)
-Paul speaks in third person, distancing himself from something that would make him seem wonderful. In this context, God cannot be talked about.
-It will stop us from boasting about things that make me look right.
-Whitfield prayed to be spared from the “fiery furnace of popularity” and from the “hosannas of the multitude.”

2) Causes us to boast about our weakness. (vs. 7-10)
-God is sovereign. Nothing happens outside His will.
-There are painful things that happen without no seeming good. BUT Romans 8:28.
-But there was a purpose for the thorn: to keep Paul humble. It pinned him to the ground and held him fast to the Lord in trust and in confidence.
-In the midst of the suffering, His grace is sufficient.
-The more we recognize our weakness, the more we see Christ’s enabling strength. (2 Corinthians 1; 2:13; 9; 1 Corinthians 1) The greater our trouble, the greater our comfort. In our weakness, we are driven to depend on God alone. ♪Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to the cross I cling. ♪ You bring nothing. He brings everything. 

I have learned to kiss the wave that pushes me against the Rock of Ages. -Charles H. Spurgeon

♪Let the weak say I am strong / Let the poor say I am rich / Because of what the Lord has done for us ♪

{Be sure to read the introductory post to my TGCW12 reviews.}

one thousand gifts {#1750-1794}

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

{2 Corinthians 12:9}

Most of my week is a blur. I caught the infamous New Life stomach bug on Monday evening. Couple that with diabetes and I was pretty much dead for a couple of days. Thank the Lord for His mercy in stabilizing my blood sugars and restoring me to health. It wasn’t a very fun time, but I feel MUCH better now. For those who interceded on my behalf, thank you so much. I was both honored and humbled. 

And just in case you were wondering, His grace IS sufficient.

1750. being able to work from home
1751. reading just for fun
1752. a providential peppermint
1753. doctors on-call
1754. a mom who stays up with me when i’m sick
1755. feeling halfway human
1756. lemon-lime gatorade
1757. a precious doctor that calms me just by hearing her voice
1758. saltines
1759. prayers and kind words from friends around the WORLD!
1760. a day to recoup and recover
1761. laughter with aunt janna ~ very good medicine
1762. a dad who brings me chicken noodle soup
1763. the power going out

1764. a sweet ate offering to teach my class
1765. a fresh face
1766. pushing on in spite of
1767. privileged to hear one final performance of paganini from those precious percussion people

1768. mama neal & holidays. that is all.

1769. i ♥ band moms
1770. a broken belt in the booth. hil-ar-i-ous.
1771. sitting on the perch
1772. depearling and desashing for the last time
1773. {hard eucharisteo} letting something trivial get under my skin, revealing the ickiness of my heart (and the timeliness of this post)
1774. catching up with suesue
1775. peach greek yogurt
1776. accidentally hearing the amy grant line as “turn my back on justin bieber.” oops!
1777. feeling SO much better by the late evening!
1778. morning iced mint green tea
1779. lots of laughs at work
1780. God orchestrating the woodwind quintet dinner into a duet
1781. He is enough.
1782. simple cane’s for dinner
1783. desperately wanting to have dinner with suesue
1784. josie’s pancakes and sweet conversation with natalie
1785. God finally washing my car 🙂
1786. finding a new sweater
1787. shrimp linguine alfredo & a movie with shanna
1788. sharing life dreams in the car
1789. a found occlusion
1790. color-blocking

1791. that He wants to draw me closer
1792. seeing neighbors out of context. giving neighbors eggs.
1793. half price frapp…mocha light + 2 pumps of coconut  FTW!

1794. {hard eucharisteo} things starting to sink in

Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites every Monday. 

What I’ve learned from trying to live James 1:27 every day {Personal}

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,
and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
{James 1:27}

I have a feeling that this little collage will be used for years to come to sum up a good 6 years of my life. It’s something I hardly ever talk about unless someone asks. But once I’m given the opportunity to share, there’s a good chance I won’t shut up.

The year was 2006. I was a senior in high school. My parents and I moved in with my then 87 year-old grandmother to take care of her. We’d been taking care of her for years, but she’d gotten to the point where she absolutely couldn’t live alone anymore. She was losing her eyesight and her dementia was getting worse.

If any believing woman has relatives who are widows,
let her care for them.
Let the church not be burdened,
so that it may care for those who are truly widows.
{1 Timothy 5:16}

Through a long road of watching my grandmother revert back to her childhood and become like a toddler in a big-person’s body, I’ve learned a lot of lessons I wouldn’t trade anything for. You’ve never experienced the grace of God in one of its sweetest forms until you’ve had to change an adult diaper. I’m serious. There are things I never ever thought I could do. And really, I never ever could if it wasn’t for the grace of God.

So here we are. 2012. She’s been completely bed-bound for two years now. Ensure has been her only form of sustenance for years on end. Her heart rate is healthier than ours and she’s never had a bed sore. The Lord preserves the faithful for sure. {Psalm 31:23} Though she might not remember who we are or who she even is, she has never forgotten her Savior. She can still quote the 23rd Psalm. She still sings hymns. She’ll still let out a “hallelujah” every now and then. He is faithful.

Caring for a family member at home is not what everyone is called to do, but the Lord has called my family and I to do that for my grandmother. If He calls you to it, He will bring you through it. We have the everyday joy (don’t misunderstand me…it’s sometimes hard to find the joy in it) of living out James 1:27 in our home. A lot of times, people put emphasis on the orphan part of that verse and snip out the widows. Widows are there, too. Don’t neglect them!

There’s a lot more to our story than this and I’m always willing to share if you want to hear about it. But if there’s one lesson I have learned through every changed diaper, every forgotten name, every repeated story, every milkshake given, every hymn sung, I’ve learned that the Lord is faithful and He will always~always~always~supply the grace that we need.

But He said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
{2 Corinthians 12:9}